Mothering & Exam Results
My daughter will be taking her A’ level examinations next month, and my mind is consumed with providing her with as much emotional and practical support as I can, in order that she may achieve the “highest” marks possible.
I have even suggested that her father not visit us during the Eid break in case she becomes distracted by his presence. If that is not a tad bit extreme, I keep playing out the various scenarios of the Results Day in my head.
I hope I am not the only one in this world of (NRB) mothers who is experiencing such stress, and I feel that much of it comes from the fear of being judged by society.
To be considered a good mother, it is required to demonstrate overt concern about all aspects of the child or children’s lives. The general rule is that an anxious concerned self-sacrificing mother is usually reassured as being a good mother.
However, a mother cannot just be qualitatively assessed, there must be tangible quantitative evidence of the goodness. Come examination time it is not only the child’s porikkha
, but the mother’s porikkha
as well, as we conflate successful examination results of children with successful mothering.
To defend myself against the anticipated criticism and sentencing, I am taking a number of precautions in order that if my daughter does well, I can proudly claim a stake in her results, or if she does not, I can defensively state that I did my best. Why does it have to come to this?
Well, because A* grades are representative of A* parenting. No doubts about it. In the social arena and on social media, it is all about scoring, and therefore excellent examination results of the child is chart - topping news.
Mothers can smirk, gloat, and humblebrag (been there, done that). They can look at their husbands or fathers of the children squarely in the eye and hold the gaze; they can utter several triumphant “hmppph”s in front of their critical in - laws; and they can dekhai dilaam
all those khonchafying kutnis.
Kill many birds with one (or several ) A* stone(s).
In reality, being awarded the best grades signifies that the child can enroll in the course he or she desires in the university of choice; it means that a child has greater options to pursue a coveted university degree, and therefore better job opportunities.
In reality too, there are no guarantees; scoring A* s does not automatically assure a great university experience, solid friendships, job security or satisfaction, a soulmate or a happy partnership, or a meaningful life; scoring A*s does not automatically make one cancer or accident free or ensure a long and healthy life, or offer protection against sexual harassment; scoring A*s does not automatically confirm a child will be a caring compassionate son or daughter.
In reality too, there are plenty of examples of non A* (A’level) students who have progressed onto becoming successes in their own rights. Furthermore, there are non - academic routes and skills training programmes for those who do not wish to take the traditional university path. There are also plenty of options to retake the examinations.
But come Results Day and its immediate aftermath, it will not be about reality. As far as a mother is concerned, it will be either about chup koraidilaam
or kotha shunte hobe,
because she will either be congratulated or condemned, depending on the results.
If it is the latter, if the results are average, a mother might be made to feel ashamed of herself, or that she has fallen in the eyes of certain people around her.
Some well-wishers might take it upon themselves to reassure her that she did her best, but invariably they will mention the names of “brilliant” children and their “blessed” parents, and in her presence have detailed conversations about what those blessed parents did right or how lucky they are.
She may even be made to feel that had it not been for her genes, or her shortcomings, the child would have achieved higher grades. And of course there is always that one nasty that will imply that her husband could have done better.
In short, she will have to be admonished, either directly or indirectly. It is asking too much to simply let her be, she is too much temptation for the shunai dilam
types. (Rolling eyes).
Now that I have penned my thoughts, I feel less anxious about my daughter’s examination results. Whatever will be, will be. But one chinta
does cross my mind. It ought to be the father of my children, or my girls themselves, who decide what sort of mother I am. My two bits.
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.